The Eucharist Heals: A Miracle at Lourdes

Gabriel Gargam hadn’t been to church in fifteen years.

He had grown up in a Catholic home, but had lost his faith by the time he was fifteen. Now in his thirties, he had a respectable job as a traveling mail clerk for the Orleans Railway Company.

It was December of 1899 and he was sorting the mail on a train making its way from Bordeaux to Paris when suddenly it seemed as if the whole world exploded.

Later, Gabriel would find out that his train had collided with another train going fifty miles an hour. He was thrown 52 feet from his own train where he lay unconscious in the snow for seven hours. His life was hanging on by a thread when he was finally found, put on a stretcher, and taken to the hospital.

The doctors there gave him the worst news of his life: he was paralyzed from the waist down.

Two years passed and Gabriel never left his bed. He couldn’t handle solid food so he was given nutrients by a feeding tube once a day. He didn’t have the strength to speak. His body withered to a meager 78 pounds. He was slowly dying. And so was his will to live.

Desperate to save their son and nephew, Gabriel’s Mom and Aunt started praying for a miracle. They knew that the waters of Lourdes in France were reported to miraculously heal countless pilgrims every year. A simple dip into the water was often enough to remedy even the most severe of illnesses. Gabriel didn’t want to go. The travel was likely to kill him and for what? He knew recovery was impossible. But after months of begging, he relented.

So Gabriel was put on a stretcher, loaded into a train, and brought to his seat. That effort alone caused him to pass out. For over an hour, no one could wake him. Yet they pressed on.

It was 7 am on August 20, 1901 when they arrived at Lourdes. Gabriel was carried to the miraculous pool and immersed in the water. But the water did not heal him. Instead, the effort was so draining that Gabriel collapsed and stopped breathing. He had a nurse traveling with him, and all attempts to revive him proved unsuccessful. Eventually, believing he was dead, his mother placed a cloth over his face, devastated.

As they transported his body, the daily Eucharistic procession caused them to pause and step aside. Seeing the sorrow of the group, the priest stopped with the monstrance containing the Host, and blessed them, making the sign of the cross with the Eucharist.

Immediately, there was movement under the cloth. Everyone was astonished as Gabriel sat up and spoke for the first time since his accident, “Help me. I can walk! I feel I can walk.”

He stood up, took a few steps, and announced that he was cured.

Later that day, doctor after doctor examined Gabriel. Not only was he miraculously alive, he was also pronounced completely cured. No one could not explain how it had happened or how he was even capable of walking given the state of his body.

But Gabriel knew. And so did everyone who witnessed the miracle just beyond the pools of Lourdes. Jesus healed him. Just as he walked the earth 2,000 years ago making the lame walk, the blind see, and the dead rise to new life, he moves through it now in the hidden form of the Eucharist working the very same miracles.

Gabriel wasn’t just physically transformed either. His spirit came alive. Overflowing with gratitude toward God, he consecrated the rest of his life to the Eucharist and to serving others. Every year for 50 years he returned to Lourdes and worked as a brancardier, carrying countless people on stretchers to seek God’s healing.

This is what Jesus does. He transforms the lives of the people he encounters. Perhaps that is why we often avoid him. Transformation can be scary. but it is also beautiful. In fact, there is nothing more beautiful than the transformation of a man or woman into who God made them to be.

Jesus wants to dwell within you through the Eucharist. He wants to feed your soul and raise you to eternal life. He wants to heal you. He wants to fill you with his divine purpose, his courage, his strength, his wisdom, his love, his everything. He offers you his own life without holding anything back.

Jesus makes all things new. There is no relationship, no family, no career, no dream, no suffering, no corner of your soul that Jesus cannot infuse with new life if you hand it over to him. The only question is: will you give it all to him?

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